Friday, December 01, 2006

Economy hard to figure out at present

How much more fucking denial can I possibly take?
I'm beginning to feel major bias at regarding the housing market. Lately they have really been devoting less attention to housing news, particularly all the bad news.
This article is about remarks by one of Feds.
Kohn said a better measure of expectations in the housing market would help the central bank understand whether the recent gains in home prices were simply a speculative bubble or justified by economic fundamentals.
Are you fucking kidding me?

And there is also some chatter that a hard landing (which we are obviously heading into fast) based on manufacturing numbers this week among many other indicators) will lead the Fed to cut rates in the spring. Go ahead and cut rates bitch, I dare you. Watch what happens to your already falling dollar.

Monday, November 27, 2006

30,000 New Condo Units

I found out about this at a Thanksgiving party. There are about 30,000 new units being built in San Franciso over the next few years. Those builders must be shitting their pants. I wonder how many of them will cut their losses and cancel. It will be better for them in the long run. They all obviously planned this shit during the boom thinking it would last forever and now they are fucked. I can't wait to see them all complete. I looked at a few of their website and they still have the gall to be asking almost 700k for 908sqft lofts.

I encourage everyone to replace the 'W' with a 'T' in every "NOW SELLING" signs they see.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

No. of San Francisco homes listed on Movoto: 1270

Number of homes for sale in San Francisco: 1270

Number of homes for sale in San Francisco listed under 600k: 325

Last Week's Open Houses

We walked around the neighborhood again last Sunday with a small list of up to half a dozen listing but ended up walking into about double that. Granted, many of those were outside the price range I was searching for but there are definitely lots of new places on the market. And their realtors are putting their little foldy sidewalk signs farther and farther away in an effort to woo more people into a treasure-hunt like journey to the home.

The 2-level Hayes home is STILL on sale. That's the 3-bd plus gigantic attic. We went in again for fun and chatted a bit with the agent. I was on good behavior because honestly, I like the place. It seemed like it had received no offers though and that the seller was motivated. Shocking when I'm seeing 2 bedrooms in butt-ugly buildings for the same price.

But this strange uncorrelation seems to be the growing norm in the market. I mean, we also saw these two places below. The place on top is a 1 bedroom for 599k and the place below is a 2 bedroom for 589k. They are barely 2 blocks from each other around Alamo Square. They look like they have had the same generic "modern" work done on them. Neither come with parking. Which one would you choose? Mind you, the 1bd is listed as being about 100 sq. ft more than the 2bd but I think they are full of shit.

This week we did go into more shitholes. Places that have NOT been remodeled, one place (see photo at top with lovely air vent in the middle of the floor) even had some pest control problems according to the lister. It is a disgusting, badly laid-out duplex going for something between 800-900k in a neighborhood (near the ghetto at Hayes and Webster) with an elevated risk of getting shot before your ARM expires.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No. of San Francisco homes for sale = 1387

These numbers are from so they might not be the complete number. I'll update these every Friday to track where things are going, not only overall but also on the lower end of pricing.

Number of homes for sale in San Francisco: 1387

Number of homes for sale in San Francisco listed under 600k: 367

"It just feels like there is something happening,"

... said Corinne Lyall, an associate broker at Royal LePage Benchmark in Calgary.

I really thought that Calgary, and Alberta in general up in Canada would be the last place in North American that would feel the collapse... but I might be wrong. If Calgary goes down, this is probably going to be even bigger than I imagined.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nov. 12 Open Houses

Back to what this blog is really about... observations of the changing real estate market from the streets of San Francisco.

This weekend was a little busy so I wasn't planning on seeing a whole lot. A bit of time freed up on Sunday afternoon so I headed out of the apartment without any list homes in hand. I don't need a list anymore because there are so many signs on every street corner.

The first place I went to is just a block and a half away on Hayes. I was prepared for more lame-ass overpriced places but this one blew my mind... a 3bd1ba+office+dining for 799k. On top of these specs it includes with a huge attic that basically doubles the square footage of the condo. If you've been a close follower of this blog you'll know that the 1271 McAllister 2bd1.5ba+sun room that I saw a couple weeks back was also going 799k. They have not reduced the price to this day.

This is evidence of my theory that as this housing market goes to shit, some people are going to reduce prices much faster than others. And will be based on a number of reasons depending on the person: level of panic, level of patience, original purchase price, amount of money spent on renovations etc... This will lead to huge price mismatches on homes that are very similar, and similar prices on homes that are far apart... like the one I saw today and 1271 McAllister. I think when more buyers see this happening, they won't just jump at the "cheap" units... if they are wise they will just keep waiting. The market is obviously in massive flux and price confusion and I think it's worth letting sellers sweat a lot more until a new equilibrium is reached. Prices are changing so fast, a cheap unit this week could look like a ripoff by the time you close escrow.

Remember, after 1271 McAllister I said that in a year's time we should be able to get an extra bedroom for the same price. I saw one today, plus a whole lot more, only two weeks later.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

NARdi Gras

OK I need to take a break this weekend from regular real estate news and local commentary to talk about something that has had me rolling on the floor. NAR (National Association of Realtors) has an annual convention as most industry groups do. This year's is in New Orleans and brilliantly called NARdi Gras. They've got their own news, blogs, links to industry blogs, and lovely photos from the event. It looks like a blast with a lot of cool people as you can see from these pics. Explore for yourself and please bombard the blogs with as many comments as you can get away with:
NARdi Gras Live Blog
Real Estate Blog Squad
TheREALTYgram Blogger

Friday, November 10, 2006

National Association of Realtors PAC was the biggest spender of any in the nation, regardless of industry.

I found this real estate blog from the NAR's "NARdi Gras" website. That is the NAR's hip and cool name for their annual convention in New Orleans. The blog in question is from InmanNews. Here are some tidbits:
"No matter what the outcome of today's elections, the real estate industry had all the bases covered. Although all the campaign spending numbers aren't in, real estate political action committees pumped at least $7.2 million into the midterm Congressional elections."
"According to Open Secrets, the National Association of Realtors PAC was the biggest spender of any in the nation, regardless of industry."
"Many of these PACs, including NAR, spent even more money on state elections."
I had to read these a few times before I realized that they are proud of this. You should all check out the rest of the NARdi Gras site. They even have NAR Mardi Gras beads because when your industry is going to hell you might as well flash each other's fake boobs and have an orgy.

"We now have the most favorable market for home buyers in several years"

I will be regularly coming back to these "updated 2007 forecast" by Mr. Lereah and his cronies because it will be fascinating to compare these to reality. In a nutshell they are saying things will go down but stabilize next year. This includes both new and existing homes. And they are saying prices will still INCREASE, albeit slower than during the boom.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"The market is much better than you might hear or read"

I heard about this a few days ago but I just saw the press release on the NAR site today. It's got many quotes from a different asshole this time, their president Thomas Stevens, not the usual David Dickhead Lereah. The press release has a PDF of an full-page newspaper ad urging people to buy a house! How desperate can pigs get...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Toll Bros. 4Q Home Building Revenue Dips

"We continue to look for signs that a recovery is imminent but can't yet say that one is in sight," Chairman and Chief Executive Robert I. Toll said in a statement.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Please... no shoes inside thank you.

Well things are starting to get interesting in the market. I've been looking hard for a picture of the realtor/agent/bitch that was showing 507 11th Ave but I've been out of luck. She's a catty one especially when you tell her you're waiting for the bottom to completely fall out of the market. That's when she begins her lecture with claims like the rest of the world is going down but she ain't seeing that in San Francisco. And that it's all about pricing properly... later I find out this particuar place (4db $1.6m) has been on the market for 2 months. Time for a price cut??? Apparently she did not think me having an agent in the east bay was a good idea because one really needs someone in the city like her. She hits the streets every Tuesday to be on top of everything. Well her job is gonna get much busier very soon. I'll probably go back in a few weeks to poke at her ego.

Not only am I seeing the same houses up for sale every weekend, I'm seeing the same people go to the open houses week after week. One place I did not see other people at was 579 6th Ave. #201. This is a unit in a 4-unit building from 1982... and it very obviously has not been updated since then. They chose to preserve the historic orange tiles and brown wood panels all over the building. This place was gross. #201 is a small 2bd, low-ceilings, stained carpets throughout (they have the gall to put up a "no shoes" soon outside), and the smell of steamed rice coming from the rice cooker. The chinese couple showing this place had the TV on as we walked through struck in awe that they are asking $650k for this shithole. We had just come from completely remodelled 2bd flats with hardwood floors that are going for 500k. This is one piece of evidence that my theory about price reduction imbalance is actually happening. People are reducing prices so fast and so ad hoc and for all kinds of reasons that we're gonna see really whack pricing comparisons. Some shitholes like this will look way overpriced and some really nice places from more desperate sellers will look like great deals.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Open House reviews

So we did our rounds of local 2bd places that are under 800k. That price is still way too much for us but we're confident those places will be going for much less sooner than expected. The most difficult part of planning open houses viewing these days is not finding places that are somewhat affordable enough, it is keeping track of places we've already seen. The same places are showing week after week. But some of those places are finally lowering their places. Take 969 Hayes #4. We saw it over a month ago. It's right around the corner from our current place. A decent Victorian 2bd, small bedrooms with carpet, hardwood everywhere else, shared laundry, bathroom needs remodeling. They were asking something like 789k. Now it is 739k. Still total bullshit but it's a start. I mean at that price, 1271 McAllister looks like a steal for 799k. But that place is still on the market. That might be because of the freaky looking realtor showing the place, shown here (this is actually a more flattering pic). We saw a loft in the lower Haight. I don't remember the fucking address but trust me I'll be seeing signs for it for a long time. It's a 850 sq. ft 1bd loft for 679k! The chick's dad was showing the place. Nice guy but he's trying to tell us how the price is great because something similar went for over 700k. Dude, all that tells me is that those idiots got ripped off even more than you're trying to rip me off. We were the third group to sign in on his notepad so he probably ended up with 5-6 that day.

First comment!

I know I'm a few days late but I need to publish my comments on open houses from last weekend.
This post is also to commemorate the first comment on this site. Thank you to Anonymous in Sonoma! Yes, wait it out as long as you can. These mofos are just starting to shake in their boots.
I had originally intended to talk about homes without mentioning their locations so as to avoid advertising. But seeing as how these homes are not moving I won't hold back on the addresses. It'd be more fun to draw attention to them so people can see some of these places for themselves.

The market currently is a little lower than expected - Lereah

I watch pretty regularly. I could not help noticing yesterday that the latest housing news would drop quickly on the front page until it was gone by the end of the day. And the news was not trivial. In September, pending homes sales are down 1.1% from previous month, actual homes sales are down 14% in the past year, building permits are down 27%. Mortgage applications are down 3% from the week before. Applications for purchase loans are at a three-year low. Whenever news like this comes out you can expect to hear from National Association of Realtors chief "economist" David Lereah. It's hard to edit down this asswipe's quotes because they are all so classic.

"The present level of home sales is relatively high in historic terms, and we can expect generally minor movements around this level," said David Lereah, chief economist for the realtors' group. "We don't expect to see any changes of note until early next year when we're likely to see a modest lift to home sales."
"The market currently is a little lower than expected as buyers try to time their entry," Lereah said. "In the meantime, there's some buildup in demand that will move when consumers realize that conditions are optimal for them."

My god I don't think that needs any more comment. This is the entire Marketwatch article that was not on for long.
And yes that is Jesus-freak Katherine Harris getting her Homeownership Hero Award from Lereah.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

DNN no longer broadcasting

This is a bummer... just a week after I found this bullshit mouthpiece for the real estate industry, the website has this on the front page. I was hoping for lots more laughable "news stories" to comment on. I did find one last new story show up on Yahoo Finance though. It had some tips for sellers in today's market. I found it interesting that price reductions were only recommended after the house has been on the market for 90 days. Seems like it's still a taboo. That's consistent with the kind of prices I've been seeing on the market in San Francisco and Oakland. A desperate greed behind the phony happy face.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New home prices plunge!

Hot on the heels of the news that existing-home sales dropped in September by the biggest amount on record, we get news that new home prices dropped 9.7%! This is huge because as you all know they were going up by about the same amount for each of the last 5 years. Also, this drop happened while sales of new homes actually rose 5.3% from the month before. The explanation is that builders are now offering insane incentives to get people to close the deal. Still, sales are down 14.2% from September 2005. And the number of unsold homes sitting on the market are up 47%. All music to my ears...

It's gonna be a while

It's still gonna be a while until places are affordable enough for me to get in. I mean, when our requirements are 2bd, ideally a den or dining room, parking, washer/dryer, it adds up. Up to something like 800k+ in San Francisco. That means we need another 25% price drop! Because 800k means what, 4k a month in payments? 5k? Fucking crazy. I am seeing the same places every week do open houses. Good sign. It's Thursday today so I'm sure I'll start seeing signs go up in preparation for this weekend. I will have my usual report soon after.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"This is likely the trough for sales"

More comedy from National Association of Realtor's chief economist David Lereah:
"The worst is behind us as far as a market correction -- this is likely the trough for sales," said David Lereah, the Realtors' chief economist. "When consumers recognize that home sales are stabilizing, we'll see the buyers who've been on the sidelines get back into the market."
Read the article here. What he's commenting on is the latest info on existing home sales. It says that they have fallen for a 6th month and prices have dropped year-over-year by the LARGEST amount ever recorded. That would be 2.5%. It is all just beginning. Mr. Lereah seems to think that people will magically jump back into housing as soon as prices start dropping. The declines are ACCELERATING. Anyone with half a brain will wait to see how this plays out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

$679,000 lofts

... still exist. And while that is outrageously expensive for most people (1bd 1ba) it is far from the high for such dwellings in SF. This place is in the Lower Haight area; not exactly known as a Beverly Hills. I didn't bother to go into the open house last weekend, preferring to enjoy my Burger Joint burger at home.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

October 22 Open Houses

I won't be able to hit any open houses this weekend due to prior commitments but I should be back to it the following weekend. I'm already seeing signs pop up as realtors get ready, and desperate. If anyone wants to share their experiences from this weekend do drop a note.

DNN - Fake real estate news network

Someone has to call bullshit on this... I was looking at Yahoo Finance as I usually do and noticed a video link to a story called "Why the housing market is still in good shape". I didn't really look at the news source (DNN) assuming it would be reputable because Yahoo uses ABC, CNN, Forbes etc...
The news guy in the video even looked familiar. Turns out he's former CNN Headline News anchor Bob Losure. I poked around the site though anod noticed that everything was about real estate. And just about everything was gung-ho about the market, except for a few headlines in their Top Stories segment in which they can't help to mention some of the actual cold, hard facts about the market. The bottom of the main page even mentions the sponsors of the site... all luxury home builders. I wish I could say I can't believe this kind of shit is put up with well-known news outlets but alas, I'm not surprised (see previous comments on insanity/corruption). Beware of DNN.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"The worst may be behind us."

More housing industry lackeys voicing their hopes after a housing starts blipped up in September. They are still down 18% from last year. And permits for future building are really down. Permits are considered a real leading indicator of housing and the economy in general. This is the article I saw on MarketWatch.
On other news core inflation inched up last month but is up a lot (2.9%) since last year. The Fed don't like that. On top of this you can be sure gas prices will be heading up after this pre-election relief. Look for more out-of-control inflation next year and as a result even higher interest rates.

"This doesn't help anyone"

It seems I can't turn on the television or radio without having to sit through an innane commentary on the "cooling" housing market. This morning's NBC11 morning news show had some statistics on Bay Area home price declines during September. The handsome chap to the right talked through a number of counties around here like Sonoma's 7.7% price decline in September. Then he made the bizarre comment that these price declines don't help anyone . His "argument" was something like home OWNERS lose value in their house and home BUYERS are still unable to buy a house. Sure, not all of us can afford a house still but it sure as hell is going to help. You know what else is going to help? October's decline... and November's... and yes even December's. Actually, I'm helped just fine knowing someone in Sonoma lost 50k in their house. It might keep them from putting another RX330 on the road. It's the many dipshit reporters like this guy that contributed to the madness of the bubble. Most of these people OWN HOMES. They're not going to go on the air and talk straight while their families are depending on the inflated prices of their homes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't trust the neighbors!

There is a comical segment on Good Morning America something like Sell Your House in a Week or some shit like that.
It started back in September and they are still stuck with the segment because the place has apparently not had one offer!
This morning they had an interview with the home's realtor. I can't believe she would show her face on national TV after this. And she has the gall to give advice on the air. What a fucking winner. Here is a pic of her. Typical shiny-faced, smiling honky. So she and the interviewer start trading whiny comments on how sad and tragic it is for this poor family to have their nest egg threatened as their house can't sell. Later we find out that they refuse to budge on the price. Here are a few of her brilliant tips for sellers: Price it Right, Put Aside Your Ego, Don't Listen to the Neighbors. What does the last one mean? Fuck knows but she was babbling something about how your neighbors won't tell you to being the price down because that brings down their home price so do NOT under any circumstances trust your neighbors.

I'll be here until 4:30

So a few words about last weekend... we decided to check out some a few of the rash of open houses that have appeared within a few blocks of us. Many 1bd condos with asking prices heading down towards 400k. But we already know we're not buying yet. I'm sticking with my prediction that by this time next year we'll get that second room for the price of a 1bd today.

Here are our requirements: at least one 1bd, parking, either another bedroom/insuite laundry/office/den/second bedroom... some other room.

So there were three open houses just a block from Divisadero. Now it should be stated that I'm not interested in helping anyone sell their homes. In fact, part of the reason for checking out open houses is to give these realtors some hope that the market is still a magical fairyland. Whatever small thing I can do to confuse and frustrate these people is worth my time. So needless to say I won't be advertising any homes by mentioning specific addresses.

First place we went to had a total of 6 1bd units. And may I say they are tiny units. 3 were just remodeled and the other 3 are being worked on as fast as the minimum wage immigrants can work. This pic is the exterior. We checked out all 3 completed units and no one else came to see it during that time. All the usual shit like stainless steel appliances, plasic-looking wood floors, staged IKEA furniture. The dude representing the building was actually pretty helpful explaining what an individual TIC is and telling us why you don't see many sq. ft numbers (some idiot sued because the number advertised didn't exactly match the number they measure after they moved in). I did my usual act of pretending to be really interested in buying a unit very soon. As we left he informed us he'll be there until 4:30 if we want to come back... right I'll remember that if I'm out and need a place to take a shit. By the way the units were something like 430k or thereabouts. Still a fucking ripoff... I'm telling you... an extra room next year.

Before the next open house on the street we took a detour to a 1.8m 6bd Victorian mansion on Fulton. Great place but the woman is telling us that heating bills could be $200/m! What the fuck man? I just paid $25 for PGE. Anyways I overheard her telling someone else that a nearby Victorian went for 2.3m so she's all riled up that this place will go for around the same. She definitely still conducts herself like an overconfident fairyland realtor. I'll keep an eye on it.

I'll just mention a couple other places. One was another incredibly unexceptional group of 1 bedrooms going for again down around 400k. Now I was starting to hit some desperate realtors. I mean I had this one run several flights of stairs just to get me various advertising flyers to take home. I swear that not even a year ago these realtors would not take their ass of the sofa.
She also touted the fact that the loan being offered for this place was a 7-year interest-only. What the fuck?!!? They're still offering this shit!!! hahahahaha they are going to be so fucked. I mean interest-only made some sense when prices were guaranteed to be going up I will give you that. But now it's fucking retarded. I guess they want to keep people's monthly payments down while the seller can still keep the price of the house up. Great! Another example that these people are clinging to the housing fairyland. This will just make the fall that much harder.

Last place was another walkin on McAllister: 2bd + sunroom and private deck. I gotta say this place was awesome. I would be happy to take this place. But they were asking 800k. I'll have to post the photo of the realtor later after I scan it because it's pretty funny. And she seemed pretty tense at the open house. She was trying to sound as casual as possible telling us that it's a great time to buy and that prices are softening. Of course she came off as a nervous-wreck. I can almost see the sweat on these people. This place will need to soften at least another couple hundred thousand to get me to into it. And you know what... we saw a 2bd earlier this year that was going for 950k and it sold. So she is right... prices are headed down but they have only just started.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Housing slowdown creating 'ghost towns'

This article is one of voting members of the Fed talking about how some cities are slowing becoming McMansion ghost towns... so far in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Remember that Las Vegas at one point was selling 40% of homes to non-resident speculators... or something like that.
Yellen said that she heard the ominous description from a "major home builder," who told her that the share of unsold homes in some subdivisions around the two Western cities has topped 80%.

"Prices are softening a bit."

We are 30ish and live in the Hayes Valley/Lower Haight area of San Francisco. Our combined income was enough to buy a house when we were deciding what to do for a living. We have steady jobs and artsy hobbies. We live in a 1-bd apartment and pay almost $1600/m for it plus a $200/m parking spot. We have been locked out of buying a suitable home in this city and have many strong views about it. We also know many people like us.
After following the state of the housing market in the mainsteam media over the last year (since the last time we looked into buying something) we've noticed a definite change in the market just in our neighborhood. This blog will talk about some of our comments local open houses, some economic news, and a lot of ranting. We encourage your comments. And unlike many other blogs, we make no request to keep posts PG-rated and profanity-free.